In teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith we read:
“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel–said the Lord had declared by the Prophet, that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church–that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls–applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints–said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall–that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, envious towards the innocent, while they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 237)
One principle is dead, and causes members to be “darkened in their minds”. The other is alive.
If we refuse to learn by the Holy Ghost, and instead turn gospel learning in to an extended quotation chase, how much further from learning by the Holy Ghost could we be? Yes, that would cause one’s mind to be darkened. After all, one has turned off the lights.
Sure, there are great inspired quotes and scriptures. The scriptures are the fountainhead of truth. But where did they come from? From someone speaking or writing by the Holy Ghost. When angels deliver a message how do they speak truth so perfectly? In 2 Nephi 32 it says angels speak by the Holy Ghost.
We are supposed to learn by the Holy Ghost. But this trend, that pretends it is an act of faithfulness because it only believes what can be verified by a direct quotation centers around refusing to listen to the Holy Ghost. It replaces the spirit with the methods suited to academia.
The true and living principle is that we are given the gift of Holy Ghost precisely because the Holy Ghost is a revelator. Joseph Smith taught:
“No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator.”
One route teaches us to be an echo of the prophet. It doesn’t take much study, ponder, or prayer to be an echo. Frankly, one doesn’t even need the gift of the Holy Ghost to be an echo. If that was really the intention, the Lord could just give the prophet the gift of the Holy Ghost and leave us out of it. Being an echo doesn’t require revelation.
But becoming an independent witness requires the gift of the Holy Ghost because it requires revelation. That is the route to becoming a living witness of the Christ and of the words of his prophet. This requires the gift of the Holy Ghost. This is the principle of revelation. This is following the prophet to where he actually intends for us to follow: to a living understanding of the truths he speaks, rather than to a rote recital of them, blind to the spirit by which he himself taught them in the first place.